Susan S. Yeske: Recipe of the week
Sauerkraut and pork a New Year's tradition
Sauerkraut has been part of my New Year’s traditions since childhood, and I found a sweet reminder recently when I visited the Kringle Christmas Shoppe at Bucks County Latvian Baptist Church outside Quakertown.
Near the baked goods for sale were hotdogs heaped with sweet Latvian sauerkraut, made by church members who also sold it in jars for those who wanted to take it home. There was no hint of brine; the sauerkraut’s sweetness came from apples and sugar.
Sauerkraut became part of my family’s annual New Year’s ritual thanks to a family member of Pennsylvania Dutch German heritage who insisted on it. Her family always served up great plates of pork and sauerkraut, two foods that are among many reputed to bring luck in the coming year.
The list of “lucky” foods eaten around the world on New Year’s Eve or Day is long. Pork is chosen because pigs are associated with progess; they never walk backwards. Black-eyed peas are popular in the South, prepared as a dish called Hoppin’ John. In Mexico 12 grapes are eaten on New Year’s Eve to symbolize the 12 months ahead. They are eaten one at a time, representing each month, and if you eat a sour one, watch out for that month.
When I got married I adopted what had become our family tradition and served pork and sauerkraut to hundreds of guests over the years. I learned to make sauerkraut the way my mother-in-law made it, which involves washing away much of the brine before cooking it with meat drippings or chicken broth, onion and a touch of sugar. I like to cook the sauerkraut until it’s dark and rich and serve homemade applesauce and mashed potatoes on the side.
Some people like their sauerkraut with more than a touch of sweetness, much like the Latvian sauerkraut I ate on my hotdog at the church bazaar. That’s the case for the following recipe for pork chops and sauerkraut found at the Taste of Home web site. With two cups of applesauce included, you won’t need to serve any on the side.
No matter what you eat on New Year’s Eve and Day, I hope you have a happy and healthy 2014.
Here is the recipe for the pork chop supper, which would be hearty and filling on any winter’s night, along with one for Latvian sauerkraut from food.com.
Pork Chops Supper
3 cups sauerkraut, well drained
2 cups applesauce
½ cup chicken broth
½ pound sliced bacon, cooked
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon ground mustard
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
6 pork chops (1 inch thick and 7
2 tablespoons oil
¼ teaspoon paprika
In a large bowl, combine the sauerkraut, applesauce, broth, bacon, brown sugar and seasonings; spoon into an ungreased 13- x 9-inch baking dish.
In a large skillet, brown pork chops in oil; drain. Place chops over the sauerkraut mixture. Sprinkle with paprika. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 to 1¼ hours or until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees.
Yield: 6 servings.
2 (28-ounce) jars wine-cured
2 diced apples or ½ cup
1 bay leaf
1 onion, finely chopped
½ teaspoon caraway seed
1 pinch black pepper
3 to 4 tablespoons brown sugar
or 3 to 4 tablespoons
1 tablespoon lard or 1 tablespoon bacon
Drain the sauerkraut only if it is too salty, otherwise use it with its own liquid.
Heat the lard in a large saucepan.
Take a handful of the sauerkraut and squeeze it dry.
Put it in the hot lard and fry it until the sauerkraut has brown edges.
Add the sauerkraut, apples, bay leaf, onion (if using), caraway seeds and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.
Add water to just barely cover the sauerkraut. Bring to a boil; lower the heat and simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Add more sugar, if needed, gradually while the sauerkraut is cooking, tasting often.
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